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Id Nirvana / Leatherwood

Columbus, 1968-70

Id Nirvana is probably the most famous band from the late 1960s Columbus rock scene, although they never released a record and played out only a few times. Their fame is more for a couple band members' later successes than any other reason. So, here's the story as we can put it together.

Brothers Joe Donovan and Dan Donovan had been in the Fugitives. In 1968 they wanted to put together a heavier original rock band, so they started looking for other like minded musicians. One of the guys they met was Ric Otcasek, who had relocated from Cleveland to attend Ohio State (although that doesn't seem to have happened). Ric had a lot of ideas for songs so he came on board as lead singer. Steve Dodge joined on drums (replacing Joe Donavan).  John Wiley was the bass player. For a short time, Tom Williams of the Rebounds played lead guitar. This band played a few gigs at OSU area coffeehouses and clubs. While playing out, they met another relocated Clevelander. Ben Orzechowski, who became the guitarist.

From 1968 into early 1969 this group, or most of this group, worked on some songs at Musicol. The band recorded 4 songs, although the masters for three were in the studio archives. The songs were "Good Things" (written and sung by Otcasek), "Wake" (written and sung by John Wiley), "Love Like Fire" (written and sung by Dan Donovan) and "Chalice" (written by Otcasek, sung by Ben).  

The band was signed onto the Columbus branch of the Abbey Group and the recordings were done in part to get a release for the Abbey Group and Chess records. No completed tape masters (only multitracks) for the above mentioned songs were found, but two acetates exist, one a two sided 7" with "Love Like Fire" and "Chalice". and another 12" acetate with all four songs. The acetates have completed, mixed versions of the four songs. Despite the acetate labels, the songs the Musicol recordings. The guess (and it's a guess) is that this was a possible Abbey Group 45 that was shelved when the Abbey/Chess deal imploded. 

Around mid 1969 the band changed their name to Leatherwood. Mike Patterson, formely of the Mayflower Proposition, was on drums replacing Steve Dodge. Ben had contacted his old manager with the Mixed Emotions, Walt Masky, and Walt, along with Damnation of Adam Blessing producer Eric Stevens, got the band on  the Ohio/Michigan concert scene with the MC5, Amboy Dukes, and other Detroit area bands. They recorded a Ben original, "Julie Ann" at Cleveland Recording in November 1969, which showed the band had  softened their sound.

Sometime around early 1970 or so they relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan for good. Dan, and John, left the band and it seems they played as a three piece, or got some new, unknown to us, members. Eventually Ben and Ric decided to move to the east coast and that was the end of the line for Leatherwood.

So you're probably wondering what the Id Nirvana songs sound like - well, the three Musicol recordings are very good. "Good Things" is probably the mosy straight forward of the four, and would have been the choice for a 45. It has the hooks and bridges that would show up in similar form in Cars songs like "Bye Bye Love" and "Let's Go". "Wake" is most complicated, an uptempo song with a psychedelic breakdown. "Love Like Fire" is somewhere in between. All the songs have hints of the Doors, Steppenwolf, and similar sounds of the times. "Chalice" is a much more subued song with some fuzz guitar.

There's still hope that all four of these songs will have a actual release....

Love Like Fire / Chalice - Cleveland Recording acetate, 7" two sided
Chalice, Love Like Fire, Wake, Good Things - Cleveland Recording acetate, 12" one sided